Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, June 04, 2021, Page 26, Image 26

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Friday, June 4, 2021
Operation keeps growing
For the Capital Press
MESA, Wash. — Case VanderMeulen and
his team of employees milk 7,000 Holstein
cows at the state-of-the-art dairy he built near
Mesa, Wash., in 2007.
Case grew up on the family’s dairy in Hol-
land, which his brother still runs.
“When my brother took over the family
farm, I had to do something different and in
1989 decided to go to the United States,” he
He found work on a dairy in California,
then started out on his own, leasing a 150-cow
dairy near Grandview, Wash., in 1991. He
leased and eventually bought a larger dairy at
Sunnyside and expanded to about 800 cows.
Then in 2001 he bought a second facility,
growing his herd to 2,300.
In 2007, he started building his current
dairy, in the Coulee Corridor of the Columbia
Basin. His team began milking 3,000 head at
the new facility in March of 2008.
Today, 7,000 Holstein cows are milked
three times a day in the parallel double 50 and
double 30 milking parlors.
The dairy is designed beyond even the
most stringent environmental standards and is
well equipped to care for every animal on site,
he said.
The large lined lagoons prevent groundwa-
ter pollution and provide a reservoir for the
manure to be applied to 1,100 acres of feed
crops as irrigation and fertilizer. The dairy
grows most of the feed for its cattle.
His son Bouwe helps on the dairy, but is
still in high school.
“He likes the dairy but he’s only 16, so I
don’t know if this is what he’ll want to do for
the rest of his life. We do have some really
good employees — about 80 of them,” Case
All the milk produced by Coulee Flats
Dairy goes to the Darigold co-op, of which it
is a member.
There are many dairies in the area in part
because the region has a good climate for
“We do part of the farming ourselves, and
hire part of it done,” Case said.
All replacement heifers are raised on the
farm. The males are sold as day-old calves.
“We breed the younger cows with female
sexed semen, to raise our replacements, and
the rest of the herd we breed with beef semen
so those calves are worth more as babies,” he
Coulee Flats Dairy
Dairyman Case VanderMuelen built the
Coulee Flats Dairy in 2007.
This dairy utilizes activity monitors on the
“All the cows have a ‘FitBit’ that goes
around their neck, and tracks their movement,”
he said. “This system lets us know when a cow
isn’t feeling well or needs to be bred.”
The system also cuts down on the labor
required to monitor the cattle and works 24
hours a day. The technology is about 10 years
old but still useful, he said.
“It doesn’t tell you the cow’s temperature
but it monitors her activity, how much time she
spends eating, chewing her cud, lying down,
standing up, etc. You can watch the software
and see what’s happening in a group, and there
is a whole lot of information it can give you,”
Case said. “If a cow does something a little out
of the ordinary, you would know it and will be
able to check her more closely.”